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Clinton Family Continues Advocacy for Advancements in ADA Playground Equipment

A Clinton family is continuing its advocacy for playground equipment advancements to be more accessible to students with special needs at the Tuesday night Clinton Board of Education meeting.


It was an uncharacteristically contentious meeting. Tyler Smith and his wife Brandy presented to the Board of Education last summer about upgrading Clinton School's playgrounds for their elementary-aged student. Smith returned to the Board Tuesday and had several pages of research he had done on the improvements they hoped to see.



Smith's advocacy hasn't been exclusive to Clinton schools either. He indicates they have been in contact with the Village of Wapella and the City of Clinton about its playgrounds as well.



The press Smith referenced is where the meeting started to turn somewhat contentious. Board President Dan Matthews told the Smiths there were no promises made to them regarding the playground improvements.



A story taken up by a Champaign area news outlet in the fall was what Smith describes as action taken out of frustration because they were not being heard by the Board of Education.



Superintendent Curt Nettles was frustrated by the story that was published by the news outlet and explained there was an entire interview and conversation that was had and only a few of his comments were portrayed.



The Smiths say they were frustrated because they presented in August of last summer and did not hear anything back from the Board.



Sandra Baker is the Board's Treasurer and told the Smiths there were very few communications to the Board and pointed out Assistant Superintendent Drew Goebel went right to work to research the requests they made last summer.



Smith accused the Board of not having ADA-compliant playground equipment and indicated they have contacted the Department of Education.



Matthews cautioned the Smiths about what they were doing noting the playground equipment could be shut down because of the lack of compliance and zero students would have access to it.



Smith says it was frustrating to be at the August meeting last summer, have a tentative budget put on file, and then no playground equipment be discussed further for the budget after that.



Matthews cut off the discussion after that. Nettles read a prepared statement at the end defending where the district is at with its current playground equipment and surveying he has done on the issue.



According to Nettles, the cost could be north of $ 1 million, and based on conversations with other superintendents he knows and had conversations with, none had anything being proposed.



Nettles feels the portrayal of the Board of Education on social media has not been accurate and vouched for the Board and its desire to do what is best for facilities.



Nettles did say anyone who did show up to do any inspections he would work with but would not tolerate anyone being unsupervised on the district's property doing any inspections. 

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